Isos Retrofit for the future

Welcome to the Isos Retrofit for the future Blog.

The purpose of this Blog is to record, learn and share our experiences of all participants involved in the Technology Strategy Boards' Retrofit for the future Phase 2 Competition. 

For those of you who don’t know about this competition, we are taking a typical North Tyneside property and reducing its Carbon foot print by 80% based on 1990 average emissions. In order to be able to achieve this we have to take a whole house approach using the following technologies:-

Solar PV - Solar Thermal - Mechanical Ventilation - Vacupor Insulation - EnviroLogic Controls - AAA Rated white goods - Inflector Windows - EnviroDoors - Combination Air Source/Gas Heating Systems




Comments (30)

Kari Best
Said this on 6-4-2010 At 11:16 am

My name is Kari Best, Business Support & Sustainability Manager for Isos Housing Group. I am part of the retrofit project team and I am looking forward to taking part in this exciting and innovative project.


Said this on 6-4-2010 At 11:40 am

Hi all - I am Bill Doney one of the team from Envirohomes who will be project managing this retrofit, cant wait to get into the property at the end of this Month.

Richard Sharp
Said this on 6-7-2010 At 02:38 pm

Hi, my name is Richard Sharp and I work for who develops the EnviroHomes website. We are looking forward to expanding the website further for the Retrofit project, part of which will be a login area which leads to section monitoring live feeds from Envirologic Control System that has been specifically developed for this project.

Michael Lee
Said this on 6-7-2010 At 03:25 pm

Good afternoon

I'm the Maintenance Services Manager for NomadE5 and I'm their representitve on the project team. 

Building Magazine has an article on another of the projects in the 4th June edition.  Although it only gives basic details on the project reviewed the works are to be included in a fortnightly diary on Building's website, it may be interesting to compare with our scheme

Said this on 6-9-2010 At 11:02 am

Good to see activity in the North East and a willingness to share experiences - with similar Retrofit for the Futrure work in the East End of Newcastle. We have just started our blog with ambitions to get a lot more contributions and content from all of our partners [residents, owners / clients, supply chain, designers, contractors] - at least hoping to. Looking forward to following your experiences.

Said this on 6-9-2010 At 03:35 pm

Michael, looking forward to sharing information with you, your project and ours are only a few miles apart and will start about the same time but they both have very different technologies - its all good news for the north east.


Said this on 6-9-2010 At 06:08 pm

Hello, my name is Simon Astill, I am one of the team of designers working on the project from EnviroHomes. We see this as a great opportunity for everyone involved to develop strategies for the reduction of carbon emissions in our existing housing stock.

We are looking forward to integrating many technologies into this eco-home that have not been seen together before. These include Vacupor vacuum insulation panels, the Combinair boiler, the EnviroLogic control and monitoring system and a whole range of other energy saving equipment and principles.

Please keep visiting this blog regularly to get snap shots of how we are continuing with the design and then as we move into the implimentation of the project

Said this on 6-10-2010 At 03:23 pm
Hi, my name is Sam Patterson and I am the Housing Officer covering the North Shields area. I am looking forward to working closely with our resident as well as all the teams involved in the project. The project will make a great improvement to our resident's quality of life and will be a great example of what can be achieved for a greener future.
Said this on 6-29-2010 At 08:57 am


Publication In the North East & Yorkshire Housing News

An innovative method of refurbishing terraced houses which will save people on low incomes thousands of pounds in energy bills has won Isos funding to fit out a 'pilot' house in North Tyneside.

Isos has been chosen to run one of 87 pilots, out of 600 applicants, across the UK in the £16m Retrofit for the Future scheme.

An Isos Retrofit house

The Government's Technology Strategy Board (TSB) is funding Isos to completely refit the end terrace house with energy efficient technology, to become a model of good practice. The most effective measures could then become part of a wider programme for social housing across the UK.

Measures being introduced to the house in the 'Triangle' area of North Shields include increasing insulation in walls, floors and roof using Vacuum Insulation Panels to retain heat in the house, using highly efficient kitchen appliances which use minimal amounts of electricity, and heating of the house through renewable energy sources. A ventilation system that keeps excellent air quality and recovers heat from the air in the house before it is expelled to atmosphere will also be installed.

Monitoring of the use of the technologies will be carried out using a state-of-the-art EnviroLogic control system allowing full control of all the technology and information on energy for the occupants.

With social housing making up 4.5m of the UK's 25m homes, improving the carbon output from them could make a very substantial contribution to the nation's target - and any resulting installation work would provide jobs for local contractors.

Kari Best, business support manager for Isos, has found there are almost 400,000 terraced houses in the North East which could potentially benefit from the same kind of retrofit as the Isos 'guinea pig' house in North Shields.

Isos alone owns and manages 564 terraced homes of this type.

Experts employed by Isos - energy efficiency specialists Envirohomes and academics from Northumbria University - have recommended which types of technology should be installed in the Isos house.

The house will end up with exceptionally low running costs, much lower than other houses of a similar age and even lower than equivalent modern houses.

Each pilot, or demonstrator, house will be carefully evaluated by the Energy Saving Trust for at least two years, to check whether the technology being used could be implemented cost effectively across the UK social housing sector.

Kari said: "We are so pleased to have been chosen as one of the standard-bearers for environmental performance in this prestigious competition, and our team will be working hard to make our test house as efficient as possible.

"Many of our residents live on small incomes so anything we can do to reduce their bills is very valuable to them.

"We are also keen to minimise our environmental footprint as an organisation, and this scheme helps us to do that."

Building work will begin in July.

Said this on 6-30-2010 At 02:07 pm


At last our tenant decamped today, she explained to a confused neighbour that she was only moving out for a few months, then she went on to tell her all about the competition and how its been going on for over a year.

 tn_30-06-10 Moving day.JPG

It brought home what the team has actually achieved for the region in winning such a prestigious competition – after all of the late nights working on specifications and endless form filling its time to just do it.


Sara Lilley
Said this on 6-30-2010 At 02:23 pm

Hello all, I am Sara Lilley from School of Built Environment, Northumbria University and I am one of the project team members who will be responsible for monitoring the behavioural aspects of the tenant. I look forward to seeing how the tenant interacts with and benefits from the retroffited house and the new technologies.

Roger Maier
Said this on 6-30-2010 At 08:41 pm

Hi All, I am Roger Maier, an architect and Code for Sustainable Homes Assessor with IDPartnership Northern. We currently have a scheme for two new ecohouses in planning for Isos and Yuill Homes. The scheme will achieve Code 5 full compliance but will also meet all the fabric specs for Code 6. We believe that this represents a good model for the 2016 zero-carbon target. We are very interested in your exciting project hope to learn from it as well as adding to the data ourselves when ours is built. Good luck all!

Chris Brummitt
Said this on 7-2-2010 At 10:04 am

Hallo, the monitoring of the house in use will be useful feedback to highlight the most cost effective technologies. It'll be good to see how the insulation performs.

If we can develop a strategy from the feedback it will have a direct impact on how we approach retrofit in future.

Well done Kari and the team. 


Said this on 7-9-2010 At 04:31 pm

 Kari Best - The Business Support & Sustainability Manager for Isos Housing Group starts the site work at the Eco House.


Warning- don’t try this at home, for all those concerned about the health and safety issues, this photo is symbolic only.

Who said retrofit can’t be fun.



Kari Best
Said this on 7-16-2010 At 09:00 am

Things are moving quickly now. The property will be stripped out over the next week, ready for Bill and his team to begin installation work. Colleagues from Northumbria University will be contacting the tenant to carry out an interview on how she feels the project is progressing and what impact it will have on her and her liefstyle.

Kari Best
Said this on 7-28-2010 At 07:58 am

Strip out of the property was completed yesterday (27 July 2010) so the property is now ready for the retrofit work to commence.

Michael Lee
Said this on 7-30-2010 At 10:21 am

Information on another project!

Refurb and Regeneration (July) has a short article on a project in Dartford which is now complete.

The partners in this project has put a short video on YOU TUBE about the process

view at


Fay Simpson
Said this on 8-5-2010 At 12:36 pm

 Hi Everybody Fay here, well done on all your hard work so far!!!!! I have been around to the empty shell of my house and it pretty frightening but I know it’s in real good hands, Cant wait! iam so excited as it will give me and my Daughter a fabulous quality of life, My Daughter is going to have somewhere special to grow up, this would not have been possible with me on so little money. Again I wish to thank everybody involved with this!! Thank you all so very much!! I feel so special when people ask me about the house and iam able to tell them about all the hard work that is going to happen and how it will change mine and my daughter’s life. I feel like I have won the lottery. Thanks again to everybody. Keep in Touch. Fay xx

Said this on 8-14-2010 At 10:49 am

Back to basics.

The Retrofit for the future competition has given us the opportunity to strip the building back to its basic structure.

tn_Picture 003.jpg

The internal walls are now a blank canvas

tn_Picture 005.jpg

This is the opportunity to learn how the house has been constructed and modified over the year.

tn_Picture 006.jpg

Once the internal walls are fully stripped we can nest the vacupore - vacuum panel insulation standard panel sizes to the floors and walls.

Said this on 8-20-2010 At 09:27 am

Graham Brown - Isos Business Director

Hello. I am the executive lead on this project. It was great to see the property yesterday stripped back to the bone! Having seen the construction, no wonder Faye was freezing every winter. This is an exciting project for us as we are creating a great learning opportunity for many folk involved in the building world and for those who are keen to progress solutions which will ultimately help to protect our environment. This project will help us to develop these solutions for many more of our residents in time. Reducing carbon emissions and energy costs is becoming a top priority for us all and this project is playing a key part in that.

tn_retro 8.JPG

 Progress Meeting  Dated  20-8-2010

tn_retro 3.JPG

fay simpson
Said this on 8-30-2010 At 08:28 pm

Hi everybody,  Fay again, thanks to Graham for coming down ad viewing the house i know that he will be extremely busy at the moment and appreciate it alot. thanks also for highlighting how the house was cold in winter. Again I would like to thank everybody who is working on the house either on the house itself or behind the scenes. you are all doing a fantastic job and i know that the house is in safe and good hands. Really still cant believe all the work that is happening and still believe that i have won the lottery. Keep thinking iam dreaming as this is really too good to be true. Thanks again to everybody involved. Would also like to thank Bill hugely as i know i have been asking for alot [50 inch TV comes to mind preferably Sony please] and i know that you have done a huge amount of work for this house and it is really appreciated. I know everybody is doing the same amount but thanks again Bill for being there to talk to and explain the processes involved and the work involved it really means the world to me.

Kari Best
Said this on 9-6-2010 At 02:16 pm

This week (wc 06-09-10) sees the pv and solar thermal panels, mechanical ventilation and internal insulation begin to be installed. We have visitors from North Tyneside Council and Isos staff visiting to learn from the project.

Said this on 9-7-2010 At 07:57 am

Progress -

Scaffold going up for PV and Solar Thermal installation.


Said this on 9-8-2010 At 12:15 pm

Dean- Site Manager

Hello to everyone involved or showing an interest in the technical aspects of the Isos retrofit for the future project in association with EnviroHomeLtd (and the lessons we can learn). May I first take this opportunity to apologise for my late contribution to the Blog, as my primary obligations for best achievable outcomes were to selectively deconstruct aspects of the property using a waste management approach, identify any issues, resolve where possible or refer to those best suited to undertake tasks assigned and assist the design team.

My name is Dean Kirkpatrick and I am the site Manager for this innovative venture into what can only be described as a methodical and complete combination of works and technologies in order to meet (if not exceed) the government targets for reducing home Co2 emissions which helps the environment and can alleviate living cost, not only just for Fay and her daughter but for a great number of tenants and home owners in the future.

The unique opportunity this nationwide competition has together with a two year proving period will open up communications to other practitioners, identify best practise, learn about material first and contribute to help solve problems arising between modern technology and a pre-existing homes, all serving to build a case study for this project.

It is the lessons we learn today that will serve us well tomorrow’ (Kirkpatrick, 2010) 

Dean- Site Manager



Said this on 9-16-2010 At 08:36 pm

Vacupore insulation (VIP) is now being installed

tn_Picture 227.jpg

Each panel is individually bonded to the walls.

Said this on 9-17-2010 At 08:34 pm

Mechanical Ventilation ductwork has been fitted. For training purposes we have kept the Itho heat exchanger out of the loft.

Said this on 9-29-2010 At 12:29 pm

Hello, Caroline from One North East here.


Thank you to Bill and Graham for a fascinating and informative visit to Fay's soon to be totally amazing low carbon home.  

Myself and the colleagues I brought along are involved in low carbon energy project development and delivery, many of which engage with the social rented sector, it was invaluable to see first hand what we need to be striving to achieve across the board.  There are so many lessons to be learned and best practice to share, I will be working with Bill and Graham among others to ensure that we don't miss the opportunity to get this type of work (or even just bits of it!) happening more and more and ultimately for these sorts of techniques and technologies to be installed as standard.

I have to admit to being pretty envious of Fay and would love the opportunity to visit once the project is complete to see the end result for the building and for Fay and her daughter.

Thanks again bill.  Caroline

Said this on 10-1-2010 At 04:10 pm

Looking forward to moving into her new home, the vacuspeed insulation has now been fitted.



Said this on 11-3-2010 At 04:14 pm

I love the product - I understand this was first used in flasks to keep coffee and tea hot on site? The question that we have around the approach is how does the materail perform over time when there is a real threat of being punctured by picture hanging [do you have to use a stick-on dado rail instead?], filled cupboards of other internal works? What are the restrictions anticipated on the occupants?

Kari Best
Said this on 12-20-2010 At 01:27 pm

Build work has taken place during the Autumn (2010) and it has been a really exciting time for everyone involved inthe project, including the tenant who has been keeping a watchful eye on progress. No doubt there will be more detail of the work that has taken place added elsewhere to the blog so I won't go into too much detail here.

The project has generated a lot of interest with visits from colleagues from Regional Development Agency ONE North East and North Tyneside Council to name a couple. Unfortunately, due to the severe weather we hae been experiencing here in the North East during late November and now into December, we had to cancel the planned official opening event twice. As we wanted the tenant back in her home before Christmas the opening didn't go ahead as planned which is unfortunate as it would have been a great opportunity to show case this exciting project.

The tenant and her daughter moved back home just over a week ago and is settling in nicely. She has already noticed a reduction in her fuel bills and how cosy and warm her retrofited home now is.

A big thanks to everyone involved who has made this exciting project possible.


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